NBC anchor Chuck Todd grilled Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Sunday over whether Donald Trump still intended to deport the millions of immigrants living illegally in the US, as he promised during the campaign.
“Why can’t you definitively say what’s going to happen to these folks?” the “Meet the Press” host asked. “Because he used to definitively say it. He said there would be – everybody has to leave. And now there’s some muddiness to this.”
Trump’s running mate did not address the question directly, instead emphasizing that the real-estate magnate has a 10-point immigration plan that includes forcing Mexico to pay for a wall along the Southern US border, hiring additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and deporting some immigrants who have committed violent crimes and people who overstay their visas.
“With regard to anyone that remains after all of that is done, I think what you heard Donald Trump say is that we’ll give consideration, working with the Congress, in a new and reformed immigration system, to consider it at that time,” Pence said.
“But what the American people want to see today is to establish the borders of this country, enforce the laws of this country. And Donald Trump has created a road map to do that.”
But when Pence assured Todd that Trump was “completely consistent” on immigration, Todd interjected, saying that Trump’s position on the issue has not been consistent.
“Is it fair to say that you’re not going to answer this question about the 11 to 15 million? I say just you, but the campaign. You’re going to leave this as an open question throughout the rest of this campaign?” Todd said.
The governor maintained that a Trump administration would address what to do about millions of immigrants living in the US only after it ended illegal immigration completely.
Pence accepted that this would create a limbo for some immigrants – he vowed to overturn President Barack Obama’s executive actions offering some benefits like work permits to so-called DREAMers, or children brought to the US at a young age by their parents, but did not say what the administration would do beyond that.
“Down the road, at the right time, after we’ve put first things first, then we can consider how we resolve these other issues,” Pence said.
Pence has repeatedly dodged direct questions about what Trump plans to do about millions of immigrants living in the US without permission who have not committed crimes beyond entering the US illegally or overstaying their visa.
CNN’s Jake Tapper hit a similar wall last week when questioning Pence about the subject, which Trump’s campaign assured would be resolved during his major immigration speech last Wednesday.
“To be clear, you did not address the issue whether or not there will be a deportation force removing the 11 million, but I don’t want to spend the entire interview on that one subject,” Tapper told Pence following a six-minute exchange over the deportation force.